Letters: Alarm bells ringing over ADHD - Josie Thirkell

14th August 2009 at 01:00

Original paper headline: Alarm bells ringing over ADHD

I feel compelled to respond to last week's letters on the Cambridgeshire case with sadness and a sense of resignation. I am no "wet liberal", being responsible for a special school, pupil referral units and in-school behaviour support in one of the most inclusive authorities nationally.

I cannot comment on the particularities of the High Court ruling, but I meet this sense of inadequacy and inability to cope with diagnosed disabilities that many mainstream schools and their governors feel on a regular basis.

The sadness is that the response suggests that ADHD and ASD pupils are mindlessly violent and leave pupils and staff at risk. This is totally untrue. The suggestion that "these pupils'" needs would be better met within a special setting would require such a proliferation of special schools nationally that it is a total non- starter. The majority of pupils with ADHDASD are taught within mainstream, in many cases very well.

Teachers are professionals and should ensure their knowledge and skills can address needs for all pupils.

This requirement to ensure all teachers are fully informed prior to teaching a new group often does not happen in a timely fashion. The advice and guidance for such disabled pupils is often sought after things have broken down. Somehow if the disability involves behaviour, inclusion becomes someone else's job on many occasions.

Every borough funds statementing and early intervention funding differently and this makes educational provision for SEN pupils patchy nationally.

Until all areas - governance, teaching staff, local authorities and parents - challenge themselves to re-think some of their views about pupils' behaviour and the need to revise curriculum to ensure needs are well met, then truthfully every child does not matter.

  • Josie Thirkell, Executive Headteacher, Springwell Community Special School, Barnsley and head of Barnsley's behaviour support service.

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